Bronchiectasis refers to the dilatation of the smaller airways and thickening of their walls. These form pockets where the phlegm can collect and act as a seat of infection.
Patients with bronchiectasis may suffer from chronic cough productive of mucus, recurrent chest infections, shortness of breath and wheeze.
Causes may include:
- Some forms of immune deficiency
- Cystic fibrosis especially in childhood
- Some inherited disorders
- Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis
- Mycobacterial infection
- Past infections
- Reflux may also play a role
Many times however cause is not found.
If you are diagnosed with bronchiectasis, the specialist may organize a number of tests to find out cause. This may include blood tests, sputum tests, CT scan of the chest, lung function tests and a bronchoscopy.
Bronchiectasis is a chronic condition and management includes:
- Early treatment of infections
- Infection prevention–immunisation
- Sputum clearance and chest physiotherapy
- Inhalers may help
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Treatment of the underlying cause found
- Surgery for patients with localised bronchiectasis
- Long term antibiotics
The specialist will give you an action plan to manage your bronchiectasis properly.